Linux Format Newsletter -- #52, August 2009

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #52, August 2009

Postby M-Saunders » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:51 am





1. Welcome

2. LXF 123 on sale

3. Special subscription offer

4. In the news...

5. This month on the forum

6. Special Newsletter feature

7. Coming up next issue

8. Receiving this Newsletter

9. Contact details

1. Welcome

We've just put up a new episode of the TuxRadar podcast at - one of the things we covered was our
KDE 4 experiment. Essentially, the three of us at Team LXF who don't
normally use KDE decided to run solely that desktop for two weeks,
to see if we can learn to love it. As an Xfce user I found some
aspects of KDE frustrating, and perhaps sound a bit harsh in the podcast!

However, I learnt a lot about my own desktop usage habits, and I'm
really glad I did the experiment. If you've been running the same
desktop environment or window manager for the past few years, I
really recommend immersing yourself in another one for a while; even
if you don't want to switch full-time, it's a fascinating experience.

Read on for a look at the new issue of Linux Format, a special
subscription offer, the hottest news stories and forum posts, and an
exploration of the major free software licences. Enjoy!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 123 on sale

Next time you open up your package manager, just step back a little
and think about the incredible range of free software that's
available to us all. It's astounding. Indeed, sometimes it can make
you feel lost - what should you do with all this great stuff? Well,
this month's cover feature is all about cool Linux projects using
the very best of open source. Host a photo album, build a media
server, make sweet music and more - we show you how.

Also in this issue: finding files efficiently with Recoll; verifying
them with MD5; video conferencing with Ekiga; and Alien Arena 7.30
under the reviews spotlight. In the tutorials section we show you
how to use VirtualBox to try other distros, create starscapes in
Gimp, code in Python and more. And if that wasn't enough, our 4GB
DVD is packed with distros and software: CrunchBang Linux for power
users, previews of upcoming Ubuntu and OpenSUSE releases, Open Clip
Art and heaps of extra goodies.

In HotPicks, our regular survey of the best new free software apps,
one of the gems this month is...

# Buddi --

The news might have you believe that the world is ending, and it's
true that swine flu and the recession make it easier to feel
desolate about current affairs. Fortunately, we can help you with
at least one thing here at LXF, and that's making your money go

Buddi is a Java-based application that aims to make doing your
finances as simple as possible. It's based on the double-entry
bookkeeping system, which helps you to reduce errors, and provides
a minimalist interface to keep you focused on tracking your money.
Unfortunately, the Java base makes the interface feel dated,
but you should put that aside, because once you get into it, Buddi
is a great, straightforward app.

The action takes place over three tabs, the first of which enables
you to see all your active accounts at a glance. Buddi will cope
with the majority of mainstream accounts and transactions,
including scheduled transactions such as rent, as well as credit
cards and loans. Simply enter each transaction within the register
for the account and Buddi will automatically deduct funds from
them to accounts that are involved in the transaction.

The second tab enables you to quickly create a budget for each
month and has the ability to carry forward figures into following
months too. You're provided with a handful of budget categories,
but can add as many more as you need; just remember that you're
going to have to maintain them all. Keeping things manageable is
the key, which is why Buddi also enables you to nest categories
under catch-all headers.

The final tab enables you to create a number of different reports.
These are rendered into a webpage, which holds both summary
information for an overview and more detailed lines should you
want to get to the bottom of where all your cash has gone.

Sadly, there's no way to import existing information in the form
of CSV files or spreadsheets, so Buddi will require a fresh start.
However, if the complexity of GnuCash puts you off then we'd
suggest you take a look at Buddi; it might be the first step to
getting to grips with your finances.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 123.

3. Special subscription offer

By subscribing to Linux Format magazine, not only do you save heaps
of money compared to buying it at the newsstand, but you also get
access to over 50 back issues (in PDF format) online: that's over a
thousand articles! See:

If you're in the USA, go to and
enter code 'e004' to save 45% and pay just $30.62 every 3 months or
$122.47 for the year.

For those in the UK, EU and rest of the world, visit:

UK readers save 35% off the newsstand price (based on 13 issues),
paying 13.75 UKP quarterly by direct debit. In the EU, you get 13
issues for 93.70 UKP (that's a whopping saving of 50%), while in the
rest of the world you can save 10% - it's 97.50 UKP.

So, save time and money, and get access to a huge wealth of previous
Linux Format content - subscribe today!

4. In the news

The biggest developments from around the net...

# KDE 4.3 released

Over 2,000 feature requests implemented; over 10,000 bugs fixed;
almost 63,000 changes in total - that's KDE 4.3. Early reviews
suggest that it's not a massive leap ahead of 4.2, but it runs
smoother and with fewer glitches.

# Almost a third of Dell netbooks ship with Linux ... with_Linux

Great news for desktop Linux usage - Dell says that almost a third
of its netbooks are sold with Linux pre-installed. Of course, no
doubt some of these end up with Windows on them, but still, it's a
sign that many people are not scared by the prospect of having
Linux on their machines.

# Critical Linux kernel security hole found ... linux_bug/

Some less positive news: a security vulnerability that has been
lurking in the Linux kernel for the last eight years has been
discovered by the Google Security Team. Still, on the upside,
a patch was made available very quickly.

5. This month on the forum

Microsoft is having all sorts of fun with Word. The company could be
banned from selling its word processor due to patent infringement
claims, and LeeNukes kicked off the discussion. LinuxGirlie noted
that this news could be good for adoption, and Guy
pointed to - a site trying to end the whole messy affair
of software patents. [1]

Aaah, nostalgia. The good old days, when package repositories were
PD shops advertising in magazines, and a 100MB hard drive seemed to
be unfillable. Bazza pointed to an ancient article about the UK's
first domestic video recorder, and the thread soon moved on to
everyone's first computers. Speccys, Electrons, Mattel Aquariuses -
join in the thread and post the machine that always makes your eyes
well up! [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


If you're planning to write some software, or you're new to the
world of Linux and don't know exactly how the licensing situation
works, this short guide will make it clear. There are many free
software (open source) licences but the vast majority of projects
use one of the three explained below. We'll also look at some of the
other options available.

1) GNU General Public License (GPL)

This is the most popular free software license; the Linux kernel
uses it, as do many popular applications and tools. It was created
by the Free Software Foundation, the group that started the GNU
project in 1984 which today provides much of the backbone of what we
call "Linux" systems (but many call them "GNU/Linux").

The GPL's main goal is to provide freedoms to users and developers,
and also ensure that those freedoms can never be taken away. For
instance, everyone must have the freedom to use, modify and
redistribute the software, or if they're running a binary version of
the software, they have a right to request the source code. No
individual or company can change this - the software will always be
free to hack.

Because of this, the GPL is called (often pejoratively) a "viral"
license: if you bring code into a GPLed project, that code usually
has to become GPLed too. So it spreads like a "virus".

2) GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)

So, the normal GPL tries to spread freedom throughout the software
world. But we have to be pragmatic and accept that proprietary
(closed source) software is here to stay, and some of it is very

Now, imagine that you had written a great graphical toolkit library.
If you released it under the normal GPL, only programs that were
also GPLed would be able to use your library (link with it). That's
not necessarily a bad thing, and some people do this deliberately.
But if you're not too fussed about spreading free software ideals
and are just concerned about the practical side of your work, choose
the LGPL.

It's very similar to the GPL, but it allows closed-source programs
to link to your library. This can bring more exposure to your work,
as closed-source app developers will find it useful, but you can't
complain if a developer makes a proprietary app based on your
library and starts raking in the money! If they make changes to your
library, though, they have to make those changes open source too.

3) The BSD License

You may have heard of BSD - it's a family of open source Unix-like
operating systems, much like Linux. FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD are
the major projects using this license. Compared to the GPL and LGPL,
which contain complicated legalese due to the rights and freedoms
they assert, the BSD licence is very simple. It just states: do what
you want with the code, but don't claim that you wrote all of it;
don't use the developers's names to promote something without
permission; and don't sue us if it makes your computer explode and
set fire to your pets.

Supporters of the GPL sometimes claim that the BSD licence lets
companies "steal" code. Sure, if you release your work under the BSD
licence, any company can come along, roll the code into their
proprietary program and never give you the changes back. But it's
not "stealing" because you still have your original code. Famously,
Microsoft used a bit of code from the BSD projects for its
command-line FTP client in Windows.

Those are the three major licenses in use, but you will come across
others. The MIT (or X11) licence is an even simpler version of the
BSD licence: reproduce a copyright notice with all copies of the
program, and don't sue if something goes wrong with using the code.
The Apache License is similar to BSD but goes into more detail and
covers patents:

But out our favourite has to be:

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 124, on sale Thursday 17 September...

# Top gear Linux - Want a faster computer without paying
a penny? Read our tips and get more performance for free!

# Build a website in minutes - Why code your own site
when Drupal can do it all? Welcome to CMS heaven.

# Install (almost) anything on Ubuntu - Learn how Personal
Package Archives work and never compile again.

Contents are subject to change, and may settle in transit.

8. Receiving this Newsletter

If you've been forwarded this Newsletter from someone else, and want
to sign up for future issues, just follow the steps below. Each
month you'll receive a sparkling new LXF Newsletter straight in your
Inbox, and the 30-second sign-up process is even easier than cutting
through particularly soft butter:

1. Go to the website forums and log in (or sign up first):
2. At the top of the main forum page, click on 'Usergroups'
3. Join the 'Newsletter' group, and you're done!

If for some reason you no longer wish to receive this newsletter
(which'll make the internet sad) you can opt-out like this:

1. Log into the LXF site and go to the forums
2. Click Usergroups at the top of the page
3. Select Newsletter and then View information
4. Click Unsubscribe next to 'You are a member...'

9. Contact details

If you have any questions or suggestions, please send them to the
Newsletter Editor at the address below:

Newsletter Editor: Mike Saunders --

Letters for the magazine:

LXF website:

Subscriptions: 0870 837 4722 (overseas +44 1858 438794)
Website subscription page:

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